US citizen, Theresa Riggi, was charged for the murder of her three young children in Scotland in early August 2010. She stabbed her 8-year old twin sons and 5-year old daughter to death before trying to kill herself by jumping from her apartment balcony; Theresa Riggi survived. The triple homicide occurred near the end of a bitter custody battle with her husband, Shell oil executive, Pasquale Riggi, also American.
The DailyMail reports:
The tragedy came 24 hours after a concerned Scottish judge presiding over the American couple’s divorce proceedings had instructed court officials to search for Mrs Riggi.
Social services were also told to step in to supervise the three children. Mr Riggi’s lawyer, asking for a court order to safeguard the children’s interests, had warned: ‘I think there is a real emergency in this matter.’ Police had been searching for Mrs Riggi after she fled with her sons and daughter last month.
The mother and children had been reported missing from their home in Skene, Aberdeenshire, by 46-year-old Mr Riggi on July 11. Two days later a judge made an order to prevent the youngsters being taken out of the country. Ports and airports were alerted and police appealed to the public for help in finding them.
They were subsequently traced to the Edinburgh house, which is believed to be owned by a friend, on July 21. Police said they were ‘safe and well’. But when the mother failed to appear in court in the Scottish capital on Tuesday for another hearing in their divorce case, a judge ordered a search. The court also instructed social services to supervise the three children, once they were found, and apply for protection orders if necessary.
Mrs Riggi – who also calls herself Mrs Butimore – objected to her estranged husband seeing their children, the court heard. On several occasions she had sent them to visit him equipped with mobile phones and personal alarms. Mr Riggi’s solicitor said one issue in the divorce was that their father wanted the children to go to school but Mrs Riggi was a believer in home schooling.
The Blindingly Obvious
According to TheSun, Theresa Riggi’s mother, Patricia Butimore, claimed Theresa snapped because she was afraid she would lose custody of the children to her ex-husband. Forgive me for pointing out the blindingly obvious, but one surefire way to guarantee the loss of one’s children is to murder them. Shared custody doesn’t equate to losing one’s children—it means you share them with the individual who contributed 50% of their DNA and who loves them them enough not to kill them. Even if Mr Riggi received full custody, presumably Theresa would have had visitation. Murdering your children is an irrevocable loss.
These murders seem to have been more about a woman who didn’t want to share custody with the children’s father rather than losing custody. This isn’t about a mom who loved her children too much or who absconded with them to protect them from their father. If you’re trying to protect your kids, you don’t kill them—again, blindingly obvious. It appears Theresa Riggi wanted to “win” at all costs and when it became clear to her that she wasn’t going to get the outcome she wanted from the courts, she killed her own children rather than share them with their father. If I can’t have you all to myself then no one else will. Did she snap? Yes. Should she be able to claim mental breakdown as an excuse? Maybe, but it shouldn’t exonerate her or provide the groundwork for a reduced sentence for her horrific crimes.
Does Theresa Riggi Have a Personality Disorder?
Possibly, I don’t know. Nevertheless, there’s something seriously wrong with an individual who views murdering her own children as a viable alternative to sharing custody with the children’s father. One could legitimately argue that stabbing your children to death seems to be extreme high-conflict behavior.
According to William Eddy, LCSW, Esq, not all HCPs (high-conflict people) have full-blown personality disorders, but many of them have Cluster B (Histrionic, Borderline, Narcissistic and Antisocial) personality-disordered traits. These traits include emotional reasoning, all-or-nothing thinking, minimizing the positive while maximizing the negative, chronic blaming, a belief that the rules and laws of society apply to everyone else, but not them and an inability or unwillingness to take responsibility for their actions.
In a recent online conversation, a group was discussing what makes the unthinkable thinkable for high-conflict individuals and/or some individuals with personality disorders. Why are some content to ‘just’ cyber-stalk/stalk, cyber-harass via text and email, offline harass, key cars, slash tires, play games with child custody drop-offs and pick-ups, break into their exes’ apartments/homes, hack into their email and other accounts, violate court orders and conduct smear campaigns while others cross the line and commit violence and/or enlist negative advocates to commit violence for them? How is it that this type of individual can seemingly sleep just fine at night even though they’re abusing others, wreaking havoc, destroying relationships, bullying and/or planning to murder an ex-husband, an ex-husband’s new wife or girlfriend or their own children?
Check back in a couple of days to read possible explanations for why some of these individuals slide down the slippery slope into violence and possibly homicide.
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